It is important to note that this blog is not a generalization of a race as that would neither be wholly accurate or responsible. However, the statements are true for my family and me.
I, Talia Brookshire, am a 35-year-old African American from Buffalo, NY. My family has roots in Mississippi, but mostly hail from Buffalo, NY and Flint, Michigan. Growing up, my mother instilled in us the importance of knowing our history as blacks in America but also women in America. My sister and I were raised as many young black girls are: strong, independent, fierce and focused. We celebrated Kwanzaa every year. We would take half days to go explore New York’s underground railroads and other cultural exhibits. In short, I was raised from strong, black parents to be a strong, black woman!
Enter Dustin, my husband, a 40-year-old white man from a town of 189 people in Southern Indiana. Dustin’s dad, an Army vet with a Purple Heart, still lives there. Most of the people in the town are related and there is NO ONE in the town who looks like me. Dustin also has two daughters from a previous marriage.
I gave you the back-story to serve as an illustration of where our perspectives come from on a lot of issues.
I was never attracted to white men. I think everyone has his or her own type, and mine was the black man. Do not get me wrong…I still LOVE black men and think they are BEAUTIFUL. Throughout high school and all of my 20’s I only dated black men. When I was 27, I married a wonderful black man; unfortunately, I was not ready to be married.
When I met Dustin in 2015, I was very uncomfortable with my feelings for him because, well…white men weren’t my “type”. Once I accepted my feelings for him on a surface level, I still wouldn’t show him any affection in public. I was too concerned about public perception. It took me about 6 months, maybe 9, to get to the point where I would give him a kiss in public without looking around before I did.
One day we went down to his hometown, in the country and I met his dad. I saw how his dad treated his mom. Dustin’s mom has a condition that requires her to be in a nursing home and I watched his dad drive to the nursing home to feed her every meal. Dustin then informed me that his dad feeds her every meal, every day. After I saw that, it cemented my feelings, heavily squashed some of my concerns and allowed me to be fair to the man I was falling in love with.
After seeing his dad’s relationship with his mom, I knew that was the kind of love I wanted and I knew he was equipped and able to provide it to me. So like I said before, I was never attracted to white men, but there is no one more beautiful to me than my husband!
In the past, if I’d run across someone who not only didn’t celebrate or acknowledge Black History Month, I would have felt some type of way! I definitely didn’t expect to marry someone who didn’t even know when it was.
Scene: Living Room Couch
ME: Babe, it’s February 1st!
ME: It’s Black History Month!!!!!!
HIM: Really? That’s a thing; I didn’t know when that was…
ME: *****the meanest side eye, while contemplating getting back on Match.com*****
HIM: What? It’s like Breast Cancer Awareness….no one knows when that is
HIM: ****sensing the rage I think he’s heard about in movies, he is also probably contemplating Match.com****
ME: Ohhhh….So y’all just left out all the black people in your school?!?!?!
HIM: We didn’t have any
ME: So…your teachers just didn’t think to bring it up?!?!?
HIM: All of our teachers were white….maybe they just didn’t think about it…..
ME: Well DAMN DUSTIN…Even McDonalds has 365Black!!!
HIM:…..We didn’t have a McDonalds
Him not knowing about Black History Month was still NOT okay for me. After our conversation, I did have an understanding of the various checkpoints throughout his life that were missed for us to even get to that point. With that understanding I was able to change my focus to making sure he and our girls are more cultured about all cultures……especially Black history.
This came about quickly upon finding out I was pregnant. I learned I would bring a bi-racial child into a family in which no one would resemble her. However, as we know, America will likely see her as a little Black girl. There are things little black children are taught, for good or for bad, that are put in place for safety and perseverance by those of us who have been here before.
Also, as I am sure many moms can relate, my mortality became top of mind as well. I wanted to make sure that, if I was gone, my little black girl would be prepared for life in America and her dad was AWARE of and prepared for certain issues.
Our arguments tend to be more educational.
Scene: Target, our older girls running around
ME: Dustin, you know Skylar will need to understand that she can’t just run around the store like that
HIM: They are just kids, it’s fine
HIM: They aren’t going to break anything, Skylar will be fine
ME: No…it is different for her. If the two older girls are running through the store, they are simply just two girls running through the store. If Skylar runs through the store, the manager will assume she is stealing something or has bad intentions.
ME: ****what is my login for match.com***
This led to an argument then a conversation on how, for even the most basic of child-like activities, black and brown children are viewed in America solely based on the color of their skin. It was important for me that he understands, if for some reason I am not around, the barriers (though unfair and wrong) that our society puts on these young people from the beginning.
There are a number of things we have changed in the older girls so they can set an example that will help us raise Skylar. We are very intentional on the way we allow the older girls to show anger and frustration. We are very intentional on the way we show all of them to show love and affection. In short, I think we have had to put more intentionality on how we raise all three girls at the chance that I am not here to help them help this beautiful black girl through our society. At the end of the day, all relationships take a LOT of work. I have just found that in my relationship, the differences in our upbringing, the added cultural differences and complexities of a blended family require more intentionality and a lot of grace and understanding for the sake of a loving household.
TALK TO ME: What would be hard for you in an interracial relationship?
TALK TO ME: Are you in an interracial relationship? What is difficult for you?